Skip to main content

ASU and UC Irvine Earn SEA Change Institutional Bronze Awards

Two women in lab coats, one looking into a microscope
SEA Change supports institutional transformation in support of diversity, equity and inclusion. | Steve Zylius/UC Irvine

Arizona State University and the University of California, Irvine, are being recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their commitment to becoming more diverse, inclusive and equitable spaces where the full range of talent can thrive in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The universities will receive the 2021 SEA Change Institutional Bronze Award, which honors institutions for the steps they have taken to make that vision a reality, at a Feb. 25 virtual ceremony.

“We applaud Arizona State University and UC Irvine on receiving the SEA Change Institutional Bronze Award. We hope they feel as honored to receive this recognition as we are to bestow it,” said Shirley Malcom, director of SEA Change and a senior advisor for AAAS.

The SEA Change initiative, short for STEMM Equity Achievement, offers a framework and community for colleges and universities as they undertake a rigorous, data-informed self-assessment process to identify barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEMM. Institutions then create individualized action plans to break down barriers for those excluded or marginalized based on gender, race, ethnicity, disability status or any other aspect of identity that has been a source of bias in STEMM.

Arizona State University is recognized for “developing an evidence-based SEA Change action plan that is positioned to become both a source of coordination for ongoing work and a guide for areas where more effort is needed to further strengthen its commitment to equity in STEMM,” according to SEA Change.

“As a leading university, we have to look into the future to see what society will need and it needs the new thinking that women and people who come from many diverse segments of our culture can bring to STEM fields,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Earning a SEA Change bronze award shows ASU is on the right course to make this happen and that we don’t just say it, we act upon it and open access and continue to remove barriers to science and technology education.”

University of California, Irvine, is recognized for “their comprehensive, institution-wide readiness for and commitment to change, with an action plan rooted in evidence and focused on shifting the institutional culture to one where all can thrive.”

“I appreciate all who have contributed to this honor and look forward to our continued progress toward a culture of inclusive excellence at UCI,” said Douglas Haynes, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, in an open letter to the campus.

Said Malcom, “These applicants demonstrate what is possible when institutional vision and leadership combine with a willingness to honestly assess barriers and enthusiastically commit to transformation that supports equity and inclusion.”

In addition to the awards, first bestowed in 2019 to three universities, the multi-faceted SEA Change initiative also includes the SEA Change Institute – a library of resources that includes a research repository, training and virtual events – and the SEA Change Community. The community is publicly accessible but also offers additional opportunities for connections among SEA Change members. Arizona State University and University of California, Irvine, both joined SEA Change as charter members in October 2020.

Institutional Bronze Award winners must have completed the self-assessment of their institution’s policies, procedures and climate, demonstrate a deep understanding of the underlying issues contributing to the challenges they face, and create an action plan to address those challenges.

An institution holds a Bronze Award for five years; after that time, they apply either for a renewal of their award or for the next award progression. Silver Awards will honor continued self-assessment and demonstrated achievements in the institution’s own action plan. Gold Awards will recognize institutions that have carried out major transformations while also championing diversity, equity and inclusion by sharing their own efforts with others.

SEA Change will also be launching Departmental Awards later this year that focus on policies and procedures within specific departments, as well as Biomedicine Awards that focus on policies and procedures within medical schools and health science centers.

“Going for a Bronze is no small feat; these institutions have furthered their commitment to taking action to remove barriers to equity on their campuses,” said Beth Ruedi, the SEA Change director of operations. “Change takes time, but these schools are well on their way. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

For more information about SEA Change, including charter membership and award details, visit